Thursday, April 23, 2009


I've been trying to come up with something intelligent to say about torture for a long time now. There are all kinds of things I could go into--the 1984 angle; the freakishly bureaucratic and clinical language delineating what was and was not allowed, like something straight out of a Foucault lecture; the sheer, tragic stupidity of how this seemed to start, with Zubaydah; the frightening bending of good science on sleep deprivation and learned helplessness; the even MORE tragic idiocy of the apparent massive ignorance of many of the higher-ups involved (not knowing these techniques were used in SERE training? Really?); and on, and on. And on.

But all of those bases are being covered, adequately and intelligently. On some level I'm too tired to do the kind of diligent reading that would allow me to come up with something of my own to say. I'm tired of knowing that this is even a question. I'm tired from living in a country where we all squawk about prosecution and looking forward, backward, and upside down and nothing happens. It's draining to live ina place whose rules are in the process of crumbling. So all I really have to say, when it comes down to it, has been admirably said by Shep Smith of Fox News in the video above.

I suppose were I delivering the same remarks I probably would focus less on "this is America" and more on the fact that torture is not okay anywhere for anyone, but I guess that's why Shep works for Fox News and I am a dirty liberal. Or something.

I will say this: the day the memos came out, although there was plenty in there that I knew already, I felt a little bit orphaned. I think it was seeing all of these acts ordered, described, and justified, on purpose, in advance, in writing that is horrific in its mechanical and professional language and its obdurate refusal to see the forest for the trees. That moved it from "things people I never liked anyway did" to being part of the structure and the body of the U.S. government, which I have had some love for. I think some of that love is gone, because under the government structure for which I felt affection, none of this would have been possible. Something is very, very broken, and I'm afraid I've been given little faith it will be fixed. That's what I see when I look forward, not backward: disintegration and decay.

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